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Recently the ICAEW IT faculty launched 'Twenty principles for good spreadsheet practice'

The twenty principles in brief are:

1. Determine what role spreadsheets play in your business, and plan your spreadsheet standards and processes accordingly.
2. Adopt a standard for your organisation and stick to it.
3. Ensure that everyone involved in the creation or use of spreadsheets has an appropriate level of know¬ledge and competence.
4. Work collaboratively, share ownership, peer review.
5. Before starting, satisfy yourself that a spreadsheet is the appropriate tool for the job.
6. Identify the audience. If a spreadsheet is intended to be understood and used by others, the design should facilitate this.
7. Include an ‘About’ or ‘Welcome’ sheet to document the spreadsheet.
8. Design for longevity.
9. Focus on the required outputs.
10. Separate and clearly identify inputs, workings and outputs.
11. Be consistent in structure.
12. Be consistent in the use of formulae.
13. Keep formulae short and simple.
14. Never embed in a formula anything that might change or need to be changed.
15. Perform a calculation once and then refer back to that calculation.
16. Avoid using advanced features where simpler features could achieve the same result.
17. Have a system of backup and version control, which should be applied consistently within an organisation.
18. Rigorously test the workbook.
19. Build in checks, controls and alerts from the outset and during the course of spreadsheet design.
20. Protect parts of the workbook that are not supposed to be changed by users.

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